This scene happens in every episode of Once Upon a Time:

Henry: [matter-of-factly] You are <fairy tale character>.
Adult character: [exasperatedly] No, I’m not. You have a very active imagination, Henry.
Henry: But you are <fairy tale character>! The Evil Queen put a curse over this town! You have to believe me!
Me: GO DIE IN A DITCH YOU LITTLE PIPSQUEAK.

Since Henry obviously isn’t going to die, I wish that Once Upon a Time would spend a few weeks away from him, because honestly, everything Henry-related about last night’s installment made me want to stab unicorns. And that’s coming from someone who happens to like unicorns. Seeing as “That Still Small Voice” was very Henry-centric, that was a huge problem.

I’ve been wondering for a while whether my problems with Henry stem from the acting or the writing. Obviously, Jared Gilmore isn’t a great child actor, but he’s at least serviceable. In fact, Gilmore delivered his best performance yet in “That Still Small Voice,” pretty convincingly playing all the different emotions Henry was experiencing. The writing for his character, on the other hand, is excruciating. He’s an irritating, precocious little gnat who gets himself in trouble through his own stupidity. Take this episode, for example, where just ran into an abandoned mine shaft, earthquakes be damned. Yeah, yeah, I know. He really wanted to lift the curse. But guess what, Henry? If you hadn’t gone into the mine, it wouldn’t have made a difference, because you’re not the one who has the power to lift the curse. However, you did choose to go into the mine. YOU COULD HAVE DIED. (Come to think of it, that wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.)

While Henry is the kind of awful character that makes my blood boil, Regina Mills is the kind of awful character who’s so comically atrocious that nothing she does can be taken seriously. Henry sucks because of bad writing, but Regina sucks because Lana Parrilla can’t act worth a damn. There’s enough ham and cheese in her performance to offend even the least religious Jew. Her threatening confrontation with Dr. Hopper early in the episode had me rolling with laughter. Does Parrilla not know how to tone it down even half a notch? Regina needs to appear far more devious than she does. If she deals with all her problems by threatening people, you’d think at least one of the townsfolk would say, “Hey, if you try to ruin my life, I’ll take a shotgun and blow your fucking head off. And no, nobody’s going to give a rat’s ass, because everyone thinks you’re a royal bitch.” Regina’s turn towards apparent sincerity later in the episode made no sense, because Parrilla played it like real sincerity, not fake sincerity. But I doubt that Parrilla can tell the difference between acting sincere and acting like you’re pretending to be sincere, because in her world, EVERY PERFORMANCE IS DIALLED UP TO ELEVEN. FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!

It’s a shame that Henry and Regina suck so much fun out of the show, because there’s a lot of good stuff going on around the fringes. “That Still Small Voice” finally gave us some backstory on Dr. Hopper, and though a lot of it was too on-the-nose, I’m intrigued by the deal he made with Rumpelstiltskin. It appears as though Rumpelstiltskin has a lot of shady business going on, and it’s interesting how he’s tying the various fairy tales together.

Another thing the show has handled really well is the burgeoning friendship between Emma and Mary Margaret. Though they only had one scene together in this installment, Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin made the most of it, and they’re nailing the dynamic of new-friends-who-are-quite-drawn-to-each-other-and-have-the-potential-to-become-lifelong-friends.

Fortunately, Goodwin’s time away from Morrison was spent wisely, on Mary Margaret’s potential romance with David. Yes, it’s horribly clichéd and cheesy as hell, but it works. I’d never have guessed it after seeing the pilot, but Goodwin and Josh Dallas have a weirdly large amount of chemistry together. Furthermore, I appreciate that the show has taken care not to portray David’s wife, Kathryn, as mean or evil, which makes the fact that Mary Margaret and David can’t be together all the more heartwrenching. (Lest you think I’m going soft, UNICORN POWER, MOTHERFUCKERS. I’m surprised that I found an excuse to link to the same Perry Bible Fellowship comic twice in the same review.)

Unfortunately, all that good stuff was on the fringes, while the mainly Henry-focused stuff at the centre just aggravated me to no end. So, overall, “That Still Small Voice” didn’t really work for me, and it made me want to turn Henry into a human cannonball and launch him at a field of spikes. That’s not possible, though, so I’m going to have to settle for the next best thing.

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